Environmentalism Is Still Not Enough

At GRID Alternatives, our mission is to build community-powered solutions to advance economic and environmental justice through renewable energy. Like many organizations that champion clean energy access in California, GRID Alternatives has worked with Kevin de Leon over the years to advance our mission, advocacy priorities, and programs. When news broke that the Los Angeles City Councilman, as well as other Latinx decision-makers, engaged in a conversation where racist, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous sentiments and statements were made, it became clear that while we may share values to advance clean energy, we do not share the same values about the way to achieve those goals. Environmentalism is still not enough.

The atrocious conversation that was leaked brought to bear several realities, some of which GRID knows and is familiar with: racism and white supremacy culture is alive and well; Black and Indigenous communities continue to experience disenfranchisement - locally and globally;  words and actions matter; and the way in which policies and decisions are made is ethically significant. 

It also illuminated the more complicated and deep parts of anti-racist work, as an organization and as individuals who are on our own journeys. How do we exist in our own communities experiencing these events? How do we confront colorism and proximity to whiteness within the Latinx community, including in our own organization? GRID does this by building a culture of equity, inclusion, and diversity within our organization, which provides the framework for each staff member to use their voice and position to advance social, economic, and environmental justice around the country and internationally. We are also listening to our communities as we take on this work. 

GRID joins the Los Angeles community and the rest of the country in calling for Kevin de Leon to resign. Elected officials are responsible not just for ensuring good outcomes, but also for ensuring integrity and ethics in the process to get there. We hold de Leon accountable for his racist comments and we do not have confidence in his ability to meet the needs of his diverse constituents. Unfortunately, history tells us all too often that even with the exit of these individuals, there will be more of these kinds of fallouts until we meaningfully name and address the underlying issues. This means confronting racism at the individual and systemic level, from conversations with peers to the ways policies and laws are created. GRID will continue to do that in our daily work. 

GRID stands in solidarity with our Black and Indigenous communities, and we are committed to continued culture change and allyship. We also extend the invitation to our partners and communities to be part of the necessary conversations and the efforts to dismantle all forms of systemic racism and marginalization because it will take all of us to create a change. 

Ours is not the struggle of one day, one week, or one year. Ours is not the struggle of one judicial appointment or presidential term. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, or maybe even many lifetimes, and each one of us in every generation must do our part.” – John Lewis